HC Deb 19 December 1985 vol 89 cc263-4W
Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the percentage of empty dwellings in (a) the public sector, (b) the voluntary sector, (c) the private sector and (d) those owned and controlled by Her Majesty's Government, giving the numbers represented by the percentage.

Mr. John Patten

[pursuant to his reply, 2 December 1985, c. 60]: The available estimates for April 1985, derived from English local authorities' housing investment programme returns, are as follows:

Vacant dwellings
Number Percentage of stock
Local authorities 109,500 2.4
Housing associations 15,400 3.5
Other public sector 19,200 6.6
Total public sector 144,100 2.7
Private sector 545,000 4.1
All sectors 689,000 3.7

In addition, local authorities owned 7,000 further dwellings which were closed making a total of 116,500 in all.

The "other public sector" figures in this case include local authorities' overspill estates (but not GLC housing, which has been included in the local authorities' figures), in addition to housing owned by new towns, county councils (for example, police houses), Government Departments and nationalised industries and other public agencies. Many of these dwellings are vacant because of operational requirements, notably those owned by the Ministry of Defence, and others have been acquired for demolition, for example by the Department of Transport. The Government are encouraging the sale of housing which is not required and many of those that are vacant are in the process of disposal.

Housing associations' acquisitions of dwellings for rehabilitation inflate the numbers which are vacant.

Vacant dwellings in the private sector include those which are in severe disrepair, those undergoing renovation or awaiting demolition, those which are empty while being sold or between lettings, and those whose owners do not wish to occupy or sell them but are deterred from letting by the Rent Act.